Art Fraud

(More) Annals of Apocryphal Art

  Q: Hallo Kobi, I hope you don’t mind me mailing you right out of the blue but I’ve been doing some research and I must say I find your site the most informative, erudite and clear on the subject of Picasso and the Vollard Suite. I am from Ireland but I live in Berlin, Germany and came across an “original hand-signed lithograph” with certificate of authenticity in a reputable antique shop in a very wealthy part of the city. I have not purchased it yet and it is priced at €955.00. It says that it was published by Gerd Hatje in Stuttgart in 1956 and it is entitled ” Bull, horse and reclining woman”.  I appreciate it is not…

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Which one of these does not belong?

Q: I have been reading your blog re Picasso and his prints. You say that Picasso didn’t use pochoir, but I have read on other websites that he actually made 200 of them.  Who is correct?  -Sue G A: I can see why you would find this confusing, especially because that fancy French term sounds so very artsy.  But pochoir (French for “stencil”) is a reproductive technique, so of course Picasso didn’t  use it to create art. Picasso made original art. Other people reproduced some of his artworks using the pochoir technique, and at times he signed these reproductions by hand—for a fee.  Although these are by no means original artworks, they do have decorative value (though nothing like the…

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There’s More for Concern than the Prick of the Lance

  Now that I’ve encountered 5 confirmed forgeries and 2 suspected ones of the same linocut, more than I’ve seen of any other print outside of the Vollard Suite, I thought you might want to know about it.  The print in question is “Pique, Rouge et Jaune” (“Lance, Red and Yellow”, Bloch 908).  I came across the two that are merely suspect years ago, before I knew exactly what to look for.  But one of them was in the shop of a dealer convicted of (unwittingly) selling forgeries, and its price was too low.  The other was such a bad impression like I’ve never seen in a real linocut, with large swaths of the image incompletely covered with ink.  (A…

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Bazinga!

  A couple of days ago I was offered Garçon à la Pipe, the Rose Period oil which, if you don’t know, sold for $104.1 in 2004, at the time the highest-price work ever sold at auction.  Just another mundane episode in the life of a two-bit art dealer.  Usually I just roundfile these emails, but this time on a lark I decided to indulge the sender. Here’s an exact transcript of the ensuing correspondence, apart from redacting the vendor’s name: Dear Mr Ledor:  We represent some owners of Master Pieces of the most relevant contemporary artist. Now we have the opportunity of offer you one of the most important Fine Arts of Picasso directly for you.  If you have a real…

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Anatomy of an Art Fraud on eBay

In view of the chap who just pled guilty to selling fake Picassos on eBay (see, for example, yesterday’s NY Times online article, “Chicago Man Admits He Sold Bogus Picassos on eBay”, which begins as follows, “A suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty Tuesday to swindling at least 250 people out of more than $1 million through the sale of counterfeit prints advertised as the work of Pablo Picasso and other major contemporary artists”), I thought I’d post an exchange I had with another eBay seller some time ago, as follows, beginning with the email that first drew me in.  (This is a long exchange rife with more detail than you might wish.  But, if you don’t mind my saying so,…

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THE DOCTORS, THE DENTISTS, & THE DIRTY DEALS: PiCostco, A Slight Return

Last week my six-year-old came home from school loaded up with books from the school book fair but nonetheless wanting to Amazon another, How to Read People’s Minds.  Now, among other considerations, I try to evaluate my kids’ “needs” (they always classify their wants as such) through the prism of educational merit.  From that perspective, this request was an easy one to accept.   Much of one’s success in life is supposed to be related to EQ (emotional intelligence), of which understanding other people plays a large part.  (Dubya is supposed to have had it in spades, though, personally, I’d rather have a beer with Barack any day of the week.  And, anyway, if I were imbibing with Dubya, I’d request…

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Reprints

Question: While I ponder my next purchase: the Picasso Museum has the Vollard plates, right? So why don’t they make a new edition? -Pam L.

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A Gumshoe on Costco’s Tail

The NY Times today ran an update to the fake Picassos at Costco caper (note my earlier blog dated March 16, 2006, for the full story), which reported that the third and final Picasso which Costco had put up for sale (it sold two and withdrew one) was also deemed a fake by Maya Picasso. Today’s story contained the following hilarious footnote about Jim Tutwiler, the art dealer who had supplied Costco with the fakes: “Mr. Tutwiler refused to comment about Dr. Zhang’s drawing, saying he had been asked by Costco not to speak about the issue. But he did say that he had hired a private detective to investigate Ms. Widmaier-Picasso. In an e-mail message to Dr. Zhang in…

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Fake Picassos at Costco (Reported in the NY Times)

The following article was brought to my attention by Richard with an attached message, “for your amusement”: It’s Costco, but Is It Picasso? Art Sale in Doubt By CAROL KINO From diamonds to dog food to Dom Pérignon Champagne, Costco is known as an astute marketer of high and low. Recently, it even ventured into the rarefied world of Picasso, selling a crayon drawing at its Web site for a bargain $39,999.99. The buyer, Louis Knickerbocker, a meat distributor from Newport Beach, Calif., had never fancied himself a big-league collector. But as he was cruising to work in his sport utility vehicle one day, a radio news report about the Costco offering roused him to action. Mr. Knickerbocker, 39, quickly…

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CRUISE SHIP ART AUCTIONS

Dear Kobi, While on a cruise ship last month we purchased what was represented as an original Picasso lithograph signed by Picasso. We asked to see a Picasso catalogue while on the ship, but the auctioneer did not have one. We purchased a Dali piece that was listed in the Dali catalogue and the auctioneer seemed genuine, so we decided to also purchase Le Clown, since their art firm had a written guarantee. I forgot about looking in a Picasso catalog until this week. When I couldn’t find the piece I contacted the art wholesaler and was told the piece was printed after a drawing donated to the Paris Peace Movement in 1968 and published the same year by Yamat…

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